Editor's column: Richmond city council votes, Santa parades

Did I just see that?

Coun. Harold Steves voting against his running mates and refusing to demand more than 10 per cent rental units from the Richmond Centre development?

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Coun. Bill McNulty voting against his running mate in favour of significantly smaller home sizes on ALR land?

These, indeed, are interesting times on council. There was a change-up of only two councillors in the October municipal election, but it’s having a dramatic effect. Not only are we seeing different outcomes, we’re also seeing odd alliances.

Coun. Carol Day’s proposal to have a public, online voting record will be helpful to keep track of who’s standing where. Some worry such a record could mislead because it doesn’t provide context. This is the same complaint candidates have had of the “20 yes/no questions” we’ve run in the past few elections. It’s a fair concern but not a reason to ditch it.

In the case of the online voting record, there may be links to council minutes and background materials. Point being, we don’t solve the problem of over-simplification by providing less information.

For context regarding the votes mentioned above, which you do need, see our stories on pages 9, 10. While you’re there, look for a new byline. Maria Rantanen is our new city hall reporter. We’re incredibly lucky to have her. She’s experienced, tenacious and looks to be subject to that old Chinese curse, “may you live in interesting times.”

But enough politics. The big news this week is, of course, the fact Santa’s coming to town. In just five more sleeps, he’ll not only be sledding around the world, but parading through Steveston (see page 23).

I’ve only been to the Steveston Santa Claus parade once, but I’ll never forget it. At the time, I was on my own with the kids and life was, well, a bit tough to be honest. I was new to Richmond and didn’t have family around. I noticed this parade and mentioned it to a neighbour who had a little girl the same age as my daughter. So we packed up the kids and trundled down. As we turned off No. 1 Road and down a side street, we saw these bizarre flames. As we drew closer, we could see they were oil drums filled with bonfires. Kids were tearing around, adults were sitting back in lawn chairs with hot toddies. Tables lined the street, laden with snacks. We had stumbled upon a block party.

While some of the images have stayed in my mind, what I remember most was the insistent urging that we help ourselves, even though we’d come empty handed, the welcoming conversations, the eagerness to have my son join whatever game some dad had underway with a brood of kids.

I don’t know another Christmas I felt so much gratitude — which is odd, given I’ve even more to be grateful for now that life is a little easier. Perhaps it was the unexpected kindness of strangers, perhaps it was my own vulnerability. Whatever the case, there’s something about struggling, connecting and ridding ourselves of “perfect family” expectations that gives us the best chance to feel the magic.

So, here’s to the magic of kindness and gratitude. Merry Christmas!

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